“It’s always better when [they’re] together.”
They being Canadian indie rock supergroup The New Pornographers, and that a terribly unpunny Jack Johnson reference in regards to Together, the fifth full-length release from the Vancouver-based eight-piece.
Since the band’s inception in 1997, its members have seen varying levels of success with separate musical projects – most notably observed in the solo work of vocalists Neko Case and A.C. (Carl) Newman, as well as Dan Bejar’s Swan Lake – however, the group has yet to leave behind its belief in the power of the full-band sound, and for good reason.
For fans of The New Pornographers’ work, Together is a familiar taste, a lesson in continuity from a band well known for its consistently pleasant indie pop. With such a multitude of powerful vocalists, it would be easy for the band to simply phone it in, essentially supplying listeners with a mix tape of solo artist tracks.
With that being said, the beauty of Together is in its recognition of how much The New Pornographers truly are better as a whole. While some may argue opener “Moves” as “an A.C. [Newman] track” or “Crash Years” as a “Neko [Case] song,” the blissfully unified choruses of both place them at the forefront of the knockout opening trio of tracks ending with “Your Hands (Together).”
My personal favorite cut on the album, “Your Hands (Together)” is classic New Pornographers – shared male-female vocals leading into a call-and-response-esque chorus that cries:
Crude plays they used to stage (oh my)
You’ve saved the best for later (oh my)
Crude plays, and yet they made you mine (mine)
You’re mine, mine, all mine, mine, all mine
More endearing than greedy, the track burrows itself into the brain, taking it hostage and reminding the listener that “you’re mine.”
Sure, at times Together is almost sickeningly twee (see the aptly titled “Sweet Talk, Sweet Talk”) with its cutesy harmonies and upbeat jingles, but for a girl that is used to taking in loud, fast and hard punk rock 24/7, it is certainly a pleasant change of pace. Indie rock fans, keep your ears open for guest appearances by Beirut’s Zach Condon, members of Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings and the lovely Annie Clark.
- The New Pornographers are: Dan Bejar, Kathryn Calder, Neko Case, John Collins, Kurt Dahle, Todd Fancey, Carl Newman and Blaine Thurier.
- Together is available on The New Pornographer’s website for $9.99 (mp3s).
- Catch the group at the Vic Theatre on Thursday, October 14 with fellow Canadians Tokyo Police Club. Tickets are $29.
“Your Hands (Together)” official music video